The Worldwide Weblog of Donald Pincher

by Joshua Gaskell

Tag: Customer

Saturday, 30th May 2015

Option, n.

Pronunciation: /ˈɒpʃn/
Etymology: < classical Latin optiō action of choosing, choice, power of choosing.

1. Something that may be chosen from a range of things; an alternative, a choice.
2. In phrase vegetarian option, contronymous to sense 1, something that may not be chosen, because it is the only one of its kind; no alternative, no choice.

Any customer can have any meal that he wants so long as it is black bean.


Sunday, 17th May 2015

If customers in coffee shops are going to persist with their Can I get a ——? formulation, maybe bariste should start anticipating the ass-backwards illogic by asking, ‘What can I have you?’

Sunday, 3rd May 2015

The arrival of William and Katherine’s second child is an opportunity for republicans to make the point that we prefer to think of ourselves as ‘Citizens not Subjects’; that is, citizens of the state (or the world) rather than subjects of the crown. But, leaving aside the complexity of British citizenship and subjecthood, I’m not sure that in this world an end to the monarchy would guarantee a society dedicated to the common good, as envisaged in the tradition of civic republicanism. I fear that our true status either way – and the creed and the colour and the name don’t matter – is as customers of the realm.

Friday, 28th November 2014

If I never hear one again, I won’t miss the announcements on the tube that say, ‘Customer service update: there is a good service on all London Underground lines.’ For a start, they invent a real problem by seeking to remedy one that doesn’t exist: if there are no closures or delays then no announcement is necessary – an update in this sense must contain ‘New information received or supplied’ (OED) – unless of course contentless good-news “updates” have been normalised, meaning that people start to worry if they haven’t heard one.

I’ve said before that customer is not the best word to describe a person on a train. By the same token, customer service is the ‘assistance and advice provided by a company’ (COD); and as company-like as these vacuous boasts may be, London Underground remains a wholly-owned subsidiary of Transport for London, itself an arm of local government. Local government does not (or ought not) issue customer service updates.

Wednesday, 6th August 2014

Further to my last entry in the OUD, the other reason that customer is an inappropriate thing to call a passenger on a train is to do with the definition of custom: ‘The practice of customarily resorting to a particular shop, place of entertainment, etc. to make purchases or give orders; business patronage or support.’ None of that pertains if there isn’t actually a choice being made of which company to patronise, and even on a privatised rail network there isn’t, since there’s still only ever one service between any two places. This is precisely why, in the case of trains, the notion of free-market choice is bunk.

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